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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  February 12, 2020 1:29pm-5:30pm EST

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to prevent actions against the islamic republic of iran without authorization. it does acknowledge in the law we can take defensive action. we can always defend ourselves. it's inherent i think to putting people in harm's way. but i've been consistent over time, i've opposed the war powers act being used against all presidents, republican or democrat, and i will continue to do so because i do believe from a national security point of view, this will create a nightmare for our country's ability to defend itself. yemp command in -- every commander in chief has to have the latitude and the flexibility to engage enemies of this nation in real time and to send messages that are clear. the president has decided to withdraw from the iranian nuclear agreement early on in his presidency. i supported that action. we're trying to find a way to replace it with something that's more sustainable and acceptable
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to the region and the world without boring everyone about the flaws in the iran nuclear agreement, i thought it was a bad deal. it gave the ayatollah and his hedge men a bunch -- henchmen money without having to change their behavior. it was tied to their nuclear program, nothing to do with their missile program or their being the largest state sponsor of terrorism. now now you see iran is acting out since this agreement was signed. they have been involved in operations in yemen, lebanon, throughout the entire region. they have captured american sailors on the high seas and humiliated them. their efforts in lebanon put israel's very existence at risk by flooding lebanon with weapons that can be used to destroy our friends in israel. they're the largest state sponsor of terrorism. i applaud the president for standing up to the iranians. they have attacked the largest oil field in the world in saudi
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arabia. they have attacked international shipping in the straits of hormuz, and the president decided to use military force against soleimani and iranian -- an iranian revolutionary guard commander that was on the international no-fly list for lack of a better term sanctioned by the u.n. and i thought he was a legitimate target of war because he has been pushing war against the united states for decades. we have had at least 500 to 600 soldiers killed in iraq from i.e.d.'s developed in iran that were used inside iraq that were very, very lethal to american forces. so now we find ourselves in a position where iran is getting more provocative and the worst possible thing the congress could do is send a mixed signal. i want the iranians to know that the trump administration would like a new deal and a better deal, but that it has to occur through negotiations.
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if they continue to dismember the region, develop technology that can destroy our friends in israel or one day come to our homeland, they will be met with all options on the table. the authors of this resolution are friends. senator kaine has had a long-standing concern about the original aumf right after 9/11. it's one thing to try to rewrite it. it's another thing to use the war powers act to tie the hands of the president at a time when our iranian enemies -- and they're the enemies of the united states in the region and the world -- are becoming more provocative. the iranian people could be a great ally one day. the ayatollah is a religious nazi, in my view. and i can't imagine why we're doing this now. it makes conflict more likely, not less. if this passes, the president will never abide by it. no president would.
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it would be vetoed, if that's the appropriate way to do it, but it's going to have no effect on his ability to conduct military operations, but it will have an effect on our enemies' perception of the united states' will to stand up to iranian aggression. it will have an effect on our allies, can you really trust america. our friends in israel are watching with great concern about this debate. so i will oppose this resolution it's a fundamentally flawed concept of having a statute that would restrict military operations based on the view of 535 members of congress. we can only have one commander in chief, not 535. the war powers act, as it has been written, i think is blatantly unconstitutional. and having said that, we find ourselves at a time of choosing in the middle east and the iranians are making calculations every day. what would the americans do if
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we did this or that? and i want the iranians to understand that when it comes to their provocative behavior, all options are on the table. and let me tell you a scenario that i fear the most. the iranians now are up against the wall because of sanctions. what if they reactivate the centrifuges that have been dismantled or at least moth-balled. probably not dismantled. what if they begin enriching uranium at 20%. go from 3.5% to 20%, from 20% to 90% in months not years. what would be the appropriate response? would that be a hostile act under the war powers act? i know this. it would be an unacceptable outcome for the united states, and i hope the trump administration is communicating to the iranians that any effort to have a nuclear breakout, a dash to a bomb, would be considered a threat to the united states, our allies, particularly israel, and would
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be met with military force if the provocation continues. i can't think of a more dangerous scenario in real time and the iranians making a miscalculation that the international community, particularly the united states, will sit on the sideline as they try to ramp up enrichment to have a breakout toward a bomb. the regime believes that they can never get a -- if they can ever get a nuclear weapon, they will be home free, that the world will back off. all i can say to the world is containing the ayatollah with a nuke is a nonoption for me. if you're in israel, it is not even close to being an option. because what you have to understand is that they are wanting to make a bomb, not built power plants for peaceful purposes. they want a bomb for a reason. it's not as an insurance policy to guarantee the regime's survivability, but to enact a religious agenda that is very
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dangerous, very radical, and very real. and people don't want to believe things like this. after world war i, nobody wanted to believe that hitler had a plan that included killing all the jews. people just thought he was bluffing and talking rhetoricwise just to grab more land and he would be apieced if you -- he would be appeased if you just gave him one more thing. it's hard for peace-loving people to imagine that folks like hitler actually exist and would do the things they say they would do. it's hard for us here in the safety of the united states to imagine that some place in the middle east there is a regime that's been on our destruction -- that's bent on our destruction because of our religious differences. here's what i do believe. if the ayatollah had a nuclear weapon, he would use it, and
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there would be a competition for the first use. would they go after the sunni arabs who are mortal enemy to the islamic faith and the regime? would they go after israel who there's no spot on the planet for a state of israel in the radical shiite theology, or would they come after us, the greatest of all infidels? i don't know whether it would be one, two, or three, but we would be in the top three. i do know this -- that our arab allies and our israeli friends can never let that date come. the best way to prevent the ayatollah from having a nuclear breakout is for the congress and this administration and every other administration to make it clear what happens if you try. we're able to win the cold war because all parties and every
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president adhere to the idea that we will stand up to the expansion of communism. this is one of those moments in history where i hope we do not miscalculate. the iranians are watching, north korea's watching. the world is watching. i'm hoping that the congress will not miscalculate, because if we pass this resolution, the chance of war goes up, not down. the chance of a nuclear breakout becomes almost inevitable. i would ask all of my colleagues to think long and hard about how you will vote today. you may think nothing really will happen if this passes, because it will never become law as we know law to be in the united states. you're right about that. but you're wrong about the signal it sends. it will send a signal that will be picked up by the most
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dangerous people on the planet, is that we really don't mean it when we say when it comes to iran getting a nuclear weapon it will never happen. madam president, i yield the floor and notice the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: in a few minutes we're going to vote on a resolution to begin debate on it. what most people would think by reading it is this is a resolution to diminish the chance of war with iran. if this resolution passes, i would argue that even this debate we're having now to some extent potentially increases the chances of war, and i'll explain why in a moment. first, let me start out by saying i don't question the sponsors and people who are in support of this. these are people with a long history who want to concert congressional oversight over the conflict of armed warfare and it's certainly something i respect. the problem is that their intentions and how this -- in
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how this will be perceived by the audience that it matters most now, and that is the leadership of iran, perception and reality are two different things. what is the perception? i can tell you i went on line to see if anything was written about it. here's what i found. just one headline, that's all i needed. this broadly captures the way it will be talked about in the press and all over the world. here's the headline from "politico", senate to rein in trump war powers after iran strike. the first paragraph goes on to say, senate set to pass bipartisan resolution to limit president trump ready to launch military operations against iran weeks after the u.s. killed a top iranian general. that's the opening paragraph of that story. that's basically the way it will be reported. i'll explain why it's a problem. one of iran's objectives in the middle east is to push the united states out of the region. they don't want us in iraq to
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help the iraqis fight isis, they don't want us in syria. them don't want us to have military basis anywhere in the region, including about bahraine one of our naval fleets is hawrtd. they do not want us in the middle east. and their strategy to drive us out is attacks conducted primarily by surrogates, they have created groups, sponsored groups that they arm, their strategy is to use those groups to kill americans, and their reasoning is, number one, they used these groups, it gives them deniability, so the world can't condemn them. they will say it wasn't us, it was a shia militia or some other group that did it. it gives them some level of plausible deniability. they calculate if americans start to die in the middle east, the american people will demand that we withdraw from the middle east. it's a pressure tactic they are trying to institute. they do direct attacks.
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but i'll remind you guys a few months ago they were putting mines on commercial vessels and there were people in the city arguing we've seen no evidence it was the iranians, it wasn't luxembourg or the belgians. that's the kind of denial attack they seek to conduct and kill americans. the person that rain that program was general soleimani. when i say he was a general, he wasn't really a general, he was a terrorist with a uniform on. that is the campaign iran is trying to carry out. when they decide what kind of attacks to conduct against americans, they weigh a couple of things. the first is, how many americans can we kill before america retallates because they don't -- retaliates because they don't want a war with america. it's a war they can't and will not win. they are trying to see how many americans they can kill, how
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much they can get away with before triggering a direct response from the united states. and part of the calculus they use to determine that is our domestic political environment. i believe there is strong evidence that indicates, and i say this from everything you see, that iran also miscalculated once. they thought that soleimani could travel the region with impunity and plan attacks to kill americans and nothing happened. and they were wrong and they miscalculated. it was evident they miscalculated by the things they did after that they were shocked that the president took the steps that he took and hopefully it reset their deterrence level. we're in a period of time right now where it seems from all indications that iran at least in the short term has decided to stand down on some of these attacks, but it's not because they suddenly found peace in their hearts, they are hoping that the political process inside of iraq will force us to
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leave there. eventually, if that doesn't happen, it they are going back to these attacks, they continue to plan them on a regular basis. they continue to prepare for those attacks to happen and what is going to map when that moment comes and they determine, we believe that the threshold of attack, meaning the number of america we kill, the number of attacks we conduct, how brazen they are, we think we can get away with a certain level because in america -- in america the president, both members of both parties, do not want him to attack us. in fact, they would calculate, we can even make it deniable, that we can create some doubt that we weren't behind it and was some our group that was going to attack us anyway, it's going to be harder for him to respond. that's not the reality. the reality of this administration is the reality of anyone who would occupy that position would be, and that is if they know and they believe
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american lives are at risk and they have a chance to disrupt it, they will do so. i know this president would and if americans are attacked and harmed, that there would be a strong response in realation. the president has the constitutional power, and i would argue, the duty to do both of those things. the problem is the iranians may not believe it. they may say to themselves, it's an election year, the president doesn't wanter start a war, there are members of both parties who have, as "politico" headline said, reined in his war powers and decided he can strike or conduct multiple strikes and terrorist attacks and miscalculate and elicit a response, a strong response to which they would have to respond, to which we would have to respond. that is how a war starts. that's the danger embedded in this resolution, not the intention of its sponsors who i truly do believe, i know they are standing for a constitutional principle they believe in.
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they are not the problem. the problem is how this is going to be portrayed and you how -- and how the iranians are going to take it and what it will lead them to conclude they will get away with. and that's why i say that passing this, having this go into effect even if the president vetoes it, sends a message, whether you like it or not, and with all due respect i say this, whether you like it or not, the message this sends is that in america, members of both parties do not want the president to respond militarily to an attack and do not want the president to act proactively to prevent one, and that may not be the intention of the sponsors. i don't believe that it is. but that will be how it's portrayed and that's a chance we cannot take. we are playing with fire. an iranian miscalculation, an attack that goes beyond our red lines on what we would tolerate is going to lead to a strong american response to which they would have to respond to which we would respond in kind and suddenly that's how you find
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yourself into an escalating conflict and even a war. i hope that those thinking about supporting this will rethink their position because while your positions might be pure in terms of our constitutional duties, the foreign policy impact, the real foreign policy impact that even this debate is going to have is to instill in the minds of some in iran that there are certain kinds of attacks they can get away with and the president's hands are tied by politics in washington. and that is a dangerous proposition and a fire with which we should not play. madam president, i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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vote:
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vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or to change their vote? if not the yeas are 51, the nays are 45. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the joint resolution by title. the clerk: senate joint resolution 68, to direct the removal of united states armed forces from hostilities against the islamic republic of iran that have not been authorized by congress. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president.
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the presiding officer: the senate will be in order. mr. murphy: mr. president, it has been more than a month since president trump brought the united states to the brink of war with iran by ordering the killing of iran's top general, qasem soleimani. no one here mourns soleimani's death. he was a ruthless killer. he has american blood all over his hands. but decisions over whether to attack sovereign nations or whether to send american troops to war, those are not decisions for the executive branch to make. these are decisions that the constitution vests only in the united states congress. and that's why we need to pass on a bipartisan basis the war powers resolution that is currently pending before this
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body. i want to come to the floor today to raise three issues for my colleagues, and i'll try to do it briefly surrounding the president's decision to use force against iran, what the implications are for us both as a body and as a nation. first, i just think it's always important when we're talking about this topic to level set. i think it's important for us to realize how much president trump has thrown away. this is a president who is running a master class right now on creating crises that didn't exist before he started flailing away in the china shop, and then this president claims that we all have to get together behind his efforts to clean up the mess that he and his administration largely created. so let's just remember where we were with iran when president trump came into office. when president trump arrived in the oval office, iran had
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stopped their quest for nuclear weapons capabilities. they were complying with an intrusive inspections regime to make sure they didn't cheat on that agreement. iranian-backed militias had stopped firing rockets at u.s. personnel in iraq, and in fact those militias were actively working on apu.s.-led project, the eradication of isis. preempt had unified -- president obama unified the world against iran. even russia and china were working side by side with the united states to constrict iran's nuclear program. and with the nuclear agreement secured, this global coalition had essentially been teed up for president trump to be used to make new progress to pressure iran on a next set of concessions, on their ballistic missile program or their support for terrorist proxies across the
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region. but president trump threw this all away. and now despite the sanctions that he's imposed unilaterally, iran is more powerful than ever. we went from a construct in which we had the united states, europe, china and russia aligned against iran to a moment today where on many issues it is iran, the european union, china and russia. how much ground have we lost? we've kind of lost sight of iran's provocative actions because since the strike in iraq against our troops, we haven't had front page headlines about what iran is doing.
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but let's talk about that strike for a moment because we need to make it clear that contrary to the administration's assertions, the soleimani strike did not deter iran at all. they levied a barrage of rockets at our forces in iraq that were designed to kill. some suggested that night, the next day that maybe their attack was calibrated to sustain minimal damage. now we know that's not the case. in fact, it was calibrated to try to wipe out over 100 american soldiers. they missed. but of course now we're finding out that they actually didn't miss. at first the administration reported no injuries. then it was a few. then it was dozens. now the injury report is over 100. thank god nobody was killed. but let's be clear, iran fired rockets that injured over 100 american soldiers, and we
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didn't respond at all. now i'm glad that we chose a path of military deescalation, but nobody in this administration and none of their allies in congress can pretend that we restored deterrence. second, it's important to note that iran is retaliating. they're retaliating all over the region. in iraq, they are stronger than ever before. they have a new prime minister-designate that is incredibly close to iran. they managed to get a vote in parliament, nonbinding admittedly, to kick all american soldiers out of that country. we're still in the middle of a negotiation to try to keep some american military presence there to fight isis. but iran has used this opportunity to get more and more embedded in the iraqi infrastructure, and the protests, the anti-iran protests that were happening in
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iraq are no longer making headlines because many of those elements are now lined up against the united states instead of against iran. remember, soleimani was working every single day to try to get american troops out of iraq, and it may be that he gets closer in death to his goal than he did while he was alive. in yemen, iran is fighting back. now it is hard to see into the relationship between the houthis and the iranians, but the houthis are acting out in provocative ways that are fundamentally different today than they were prior to the death of soleimani. they are restricting humanitarian aid. they are launching attacks against civilian sites. we don't know that the houthis are undertaking these actions from orders from iran, but it
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is likely that it is not coincidental that the houthis' increase in activity in yemen further destabilizing a country that's really important to the united states is happening at the very moment that iran is looking for ways fo get back at the -- to get back at the united states for the soleimani strike. remember, isis and al qaeda are inside yemen. the wing of al qaeda that has the clearest designs against the united states takes advantage of the chaos inside yemen to recruit and to grow and to expand their territory. and so as the houthis are further destabilizing yemen, the enemies of the united states are potentially getting stronger. iran is once again back on the march inside yemen. and then in lebanon, in lebanon we have this moment, we have this moment in which there were proapts on the street -- protests on the street that were demanding a lebanese government free of corruption and free of
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iranian influence. we were this close to getting a technocratic government in lebanon that mielt finally break the grip of iran on elements of lebanese politics. and instead of taking advantage of that moment, the united states decided that it was going to cut off aid to the army that was protecting the protesters. and the combination of that mistake and then the assassination of general soleimani allowed iran to upend the momentum that was running against tehran inside lebanon. and now guess what we have in lebanon. we have a hezbollah government in iran -- in lebanon. and instead of getting a citizen-focused technocratic government, we have an iranian-aligned hezbollah government in lebanon. iran is fighting back. they are escalating.
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they may not be shooting missiles at american military bases, but they are gaining ground. they are taking provocative actions throughout the region. and it's really important for us to understand that. it's really for us to understand how we are losing ground in places like iraq and yemen and lebanon, how much stronger iran is getting as a direct consequence of the action that was taken without congressional authorization. and my third and last point is this, even if we pass this war powers resolution, this president is still going to maintain that he has a mack truck sized loophole through which he can run military action overseas without coming to congress. the president's article 2 authority -- and he has it. i'm not denying that the president doesn't have constitutional authority to
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protect america prior to a congressional authorization. but the president's article 2 authority has morphed over time into a monster, and congress needs to do more than just pass war powers resolutions to contain this godzilla. for years presidents of both parties have stretched executive war-making power too far. i have been on this floor criticizing a democratic president, president obama, who i argued should have come to congress for authorization for sphraiks -- air strikes against libya, should have come to congress and asked for authorization before launching an offensive against isis or waging drone wars in yemen or pakistan. but president trump has taken this abuse to new levels. and the threat of falling into a new war with iran based on whispers of intelligence and without any authorization from congress is a real possibility. we've got to take it seriously
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in this body. in fact, i listened to an administration official this week make the case that the president was actually authorized to kill soleimani because the irgc, the military group that he led, was listed by the administration as a terrorist organization. and i know that many of my colleagues have made elements of this argument as well. that is a ridiculous argument that fails on its face. remember, the administration, not congress, designates who's on the terrorist list. and so you cannot argue that the executive level designation of a terrorist group is a declaration of war. it's not even a debatable proposition, but the administration is apparently making it.
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so what i'm saying is that we need to be looking towards the reform of the war powers process more broadly. the overreach of multiple administrations proves the need for an enforcement mechanism for congress, and more specifically, definitions around the circumstances in which a president can use force before coming to congress. a new w.p.a. should sunset the existing military authorization force, force us to come back to the table and write new aureses for the -- authorizations for the military engagements that we still need to be in overseas, and it should create templates for new authorizations of military force that include reasonable sunset provisions on the new aumf's and to make sure it doesn't get stretched to
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cover geographic areas that were never contemplated by the legislators who drafted the original authorizations. for many folks it feels all foo familiar -- all-too familiar to be down here today having this argument over the president's military escalation with iran. we're talking about manipulated intelligence, ra drumbeat -- a drumbeat of war, we are listening to bulling them. questioning military objectives overseas were somehow hurting the troops. it all brings back these flashbacks of the disasterus path to war. this vote is essential in my mind so that we warn ourselves against going down that path again. so, yes, let's pass this resolution. we can't stop there. congress needs to do our job to reform the war powers system so
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that this president and future presidents of both parties respect both congress's role and the deepest responsibility that we all have to the american people when we make a decision to go to war. i yield the floor. mr. reed: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i rise today to discuss my concerns with respect to iran and to express my support for the kaine resolution of which i'm a cosponsor. no -- my thoughts remain with the service members who are injured by iran's retaliatory ballistic missle attacks in
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iraq. the president was indeed wrong to diminish their wounds by referring to them as headaches, traumatic brain injuries are serious and the president's comments undermines our military personal. unfortunately the president still does not seem to grasp that his words and actions have real consequences. tensions with iran and the potential for miscalculation remain exceptionally high. we are likely in a period of calm before the storm. no serious analyst doubts there will be a future violent iranian reaction. this temporary calm is a result of several factors. first soleimani's death has caused a disruption in the command and control of the irgc quds force. he is not irreplaceable but difficult to replace. second iran's principal objective in iraq is to get them
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to leave iraq. the killing of soleimani has given iran political leverage it did not imagine and violence at this time could dissipate that advantage, especially as iraq leadership remains in flux. finally, the tragic downing of the ukrainian airliner has gotten support in iran with renewed criticism of the ayatollah. this would exacerbate opposition. the iranians are likely to continue to act via proxy, for example, iranian-backed shia have new forces. our national security interests related to iran, iraq and our counterisis campaign are on a
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negative trajectory because of the impulsive decision-making we have seen. since coming into office, the trump administration has waged a maximum pressure campaign against iran that has included crippling sanctions, the unilaterally withdrawal from the iran-nuclear deal and the killing of soleimani, secretary pompeo and the president stated that the goal of this campaign is to bring iran to the negotiating table but instead had has had an opposite effect, driving iran into a corner that sees little down side to escalating direct conflict with our country. the ripple effect of this so-called pressure campaign has resulted in the disruption of counterterrorism operations in iraq, the direction for iraqi parliament to remove u.s. troops from iraq, the resumption of iran's nuclear program, the growing diplomatic distance of the united states from our traditional allies and partners, and that's not what anyone would
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call a win. it should be clear to all that these policies are not working. the administration continues to let events in the region dictate our response rather than proactively and sha tijicly -- strategically shaping them in a way that benefits our united states national security and foreign policy objectives. we should take the opportunity now to step back from the brink of conflict, engage in real diplomacy with iran and rebuild our relationship with iraq. we need diplomatic channels, either directly or through third parties, to avoid miscalculation on either side that could lead to military conflict. such efforts have been made more difficult because of the reduced diplomatic -- the coordinator, the state department has indicated that the ordered departure has affected all
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operations of mission iraq and has limited the mission's ability to help iraq become a more resilient independent democratic country and to support counterisis efforts. unfortunately the situation at the u.s. embassy is indicative of our country's structure which has been hallowed out and hampered at every concern. i'm particularly concerned that secretary pompeo has not assumed the traditional role of secretary of state with diplomatic options, but has been the loudest voice in the administration for violence and confrontation. weaponizeing as first step rather than the last is a sure path to diplomatic failure. war with iran is not inevitable, but the risks because of the president's misguided policy has never been higher. as dictated by the constitution, going to war rests with congress
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and the kaine legislation -- some argued that congress should not debate the issues of hostilities with iran. they claim that one is not an opponent of the iranian regime. i wholeheartedly disagree. before being sent to war, our troops deserve to know that the objectives are valid and worthy of potential sacrifice. our military men and women deserve to know that they have a clear mission and full backing of not only the congress but also the american people that we represent. the administration not only owes the american people a transparent explanation but also a credible strategy to conclude hostility to ensure an enduring peace. as we have painfully experienced in iraq and afghanistan over much of the last two decades, securing the peace is no easy task. i'm also deeply troubled by the evolving and at times
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contradictory justifications offered by the administration for the killing of soleimani. even in a highly classified meeting to senators following the strike on soleimani, the administration failed to provide relevant details. there is simply no justification for refusing to share intelligence with congress that underpins the administration's use for force. determining imminence is both the immediate intent and immediate capabilities. the administration has not provided a sufficient response to the senate on either point. the president has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness not just to bend the facts but to indulge in outright fabrications. this behavior is particularly concerning and unacceptable when it may result in the deployment of troops into harm's way. congress has a responsibility to demand, and if necessary, challenge the basis for assertion that's could be used
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to take this country to war. we must not repeat the mistakes that led us to war in iraq in 2003. i voted against that conflict in part because i believe it was an unnecessary war of choice and the bush administration had not provided the american people with a sober assessment of the likely course or the nature of the threat. going to war in iraq took our focus off the effort to defeat al qaeda and consolidate gains in afghanistan, it has contributed to our inability to secure that country in the years since. once again we are risking an avoidable conflict in the middle east at the expense of our effort to decrease isis and putting china and russia in line with our national defense strategy. conflict with iran is not a hypothetical proposition given the escalating cycle of violence which has ultimately led to the
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outbreak of military action between the united states and iran involving the killing of soleimani and iran's retaliatory ballistic missle strike in iraq. iran has also announced it will no longer comply with the constraints placed on the nuclear program, the jcpoa, likely resulting in a reduction of the breakout timeline for iran to produce enough material for a nuclear weapon. president trump declared repeatedly it will not allow iran to acquire such a weapon. changing course by the administration, the president appears to be creating a situation where in his only option is military action when it comes to preventing iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. however, we have received no assurances that this administration would consult with congress and seek authorization in advance if it believed it needed to take such military action. congress cannot stand idly by as
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the president kor reasons toward conflict. it is outlined in the president's own national defense strategy led to the deployment of 220,000 troops in the region last year, disrutted our operations against isis and made america less safe. the administration's ill-conceived approach has not worked and the time has come to try real and sustained diplomacy rather than relying on the power of coercion, i encourage our president to seek a diplomatic solution to the current situation immediately. and with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. and also, mr. president, i would note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mr. blunt: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. blunt: is there a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes. mr. blunt: i would move we suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. blunt: mr. president,
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missourians and many of our closest neighbors waiting for the life-changing moment that happens when you have a liver transplant now have to have one more hurdle they have to go through to make that happen. there is a new and i think terribly flawed organ allocation policy. senator moran and i have really led an effort to slow in down. we've both been the chairmen of the health and human services appropriating committee. we think we understand how that agency is supposed to work and how some of these health care issues are supposed to be handled. frankly, i don't think either one of us think that this one has been handled in the right way. the policy we see today really nearly half the country is disadvantaged by a new policy that's been put into place. it used to be that when someone donated a liver, those organs
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were matched with the transplant candidates first at the local level, then regionally and finally at the national level, and it's my belief -- and i think senator moran's belief -- that when you know that your neighbors are going to benefit from that decision, you're more likely to make thization you want to be -- to make that decision that you want to be part of that organ donor community. and in the neighborhood we live -- and, mr. president, where you live -- i think people have approached this in a pretty dynamic way, wanting to be part of that. in missouri, 73% of people are organ donors or at least willing to be organ donors. other states in the midwest, in the south, and frankly the rural part of the country just simply have the highest donation rates of being willing to be an organ donor. that's not the case everywhere. in new york, for example, 32% of people are organ donors. there's a big difference in 73%
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and 32%. i don't know how much of that difference relates to the fact that in missouri, in kansas, in arkansas and other place people look at this and they think, if i am willing to be an organ donor, people that i know, people my kids go to church -- go to school with, people we go to church with people we see in the grocery store have a better chance if they have that crisis in their life to benefit from it than others do, but on the 4th of february, a new policy went into effect that will take livers, specifically donated by missourians, and allocate them to other parts of the country. no longer will you know that if you are an organ donor that the people that live closest to you have the greatest chance of getting that organ that you've been willing to donate. and the change in liver allocations, roughly 32% fewer
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liver transplants were -- will happen in missouri than will happen otherwise. and senator moran has joined me here on the floor and we have both talked about this a lot. we've had the group come into our offices that are supposed to be making this system work. you know, in missouri, we have six transplant centers. we currently have 109 people on the transplant list. ten of them are younger than 18 years old. and they simply won't have as good an opportunity -- a good likelihood to have a transplanted, lifesaving liver than they would have had before. and it's not just missouri who suffers. as much as 40% of the country will see a decrease in what was available to them. now, my view, this was not decided by transplant experts. most of them have talked to us, in fact, about their concerns
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about having to transport, in this case, again, livers longer distances having to have more time and expense to get that organ than they would otherwise. but it was decided by what appears to be an unaccountable government contractor -- at least they've been unaccountable to us, senator moran, and we've talked to them about this, tried to make a case that makes sense, tried to get them not to rush through this. but they did. now, you know, the contractor in this case serves as both the administrator of the organ allocation system and the determiner of who gets the organ. it seems like to me there's a conflict there. contractors held a contract for nearly 35 years. again, it seems to me that competition might be a good thing here. this policy became a policy without due process, without transparency, or i think without fully evaluating the
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consequences. i think it was rushed. in fact, even the department of health and human services, who i'll mention again, senator moran and i have chaired their appropriating committee and shared our concerns on this, i think failed to fully exercise the authority they had. and senator moran, i'd turn you to now. i think we can do that based on how we asked for this time -- and join you as you talk about your concerns and my concerns. and we've had people come to us and talk about this and how important it is, and i'm glad to join you here on the floor today. but i'm disappointed for people in both of our states and in our part of the country really that are going to be disadvantaged by this new policy where significant donors where we live are going to be having their donations to states where people just simply don't sign up to be part of this process. if they did, there would have been no interest in changing the other system. mr. moran: mr. president?
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the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. moran: mr. president, thank you. i certainly rise to support the remarks of my colleague from missouri, senator blunt. and i thank him for his leadership. he is in an important position, as the chairperson of the labor, health, and education appropriations subcommittee responsible for appropriating funds to the department of health and human services. i serve on that committee -- that subcommittee with him. he is a leader in so many ways. but i am so pleased that we are allies in this issue. this issue of life and death for kansas city, missourians. particularly in rural areas, in the midwest, and in the south, the decisions that are -- that have been made, the decisions that are being made have huge consequences that will affect families, individuals, their lives today and for years to come. i express my concerns, my deeply
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held belief that the department of health and human services is failing to do its job. their harmful actions will damage the liver allocation policy in this country in the way that i just described. the policy discussion that we're having here today is important. it's important any day. but it's relevant. the national donor day is this friday, february 14. i want to take a moment to thank those across kansas and missouri and around the country who have donated their organs, to give that gift of life. senator blunt is right. i think there is a tendency on the part of people to donate an organ, knowing that somebody maybe they don't necessarily know them but somebody who might live down the street or live in the same state. there is a sense of community in this country that is being destroyed which doesn't -- the end result of that is there will
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be fewer donors donating organs for the lives of others. and these changes to the united network for organ-sharing distribution policy, they redistribute the organs from states and regions that have high donor organ rates to areas that have historically underperformed. this results in patients in kansas and those in the midwest, other states, to wait a much longer time for the organ. i have spoken -- i spoke on this topic on the senate floor back before this destructive policy was pushed forward. i spoke in 2018. we're still here today. the lack of interest and concern exhibited by those involved in this process is appalling to me. i stand here today because of the outright refusal of the secretary of health and human services to halt the implementation of this damaging and unfair health policy that
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has not withstood examination by either medical experts or our nation's judicial system. in fact, the united states district court has been forced to place multiple injunctions on implementation of this policy last year, as h.h.s. tried to force this policy upon patients across the nation, despite a lawsuit from the collection of -- from a collection of our nation's best transplant centers. so the organizations that are fully engaged in opposing this process are the people who provide the -- the people who transplant the organs who are in desperate need of them. it is the transplant centers in universities and hospitals across a wide swath of the country. h.h.s. has ignored the initial injunction order and began to implement the harmful policy so they could -- they had to seek a second injunction in order to force to have the injunction be
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upheld. in explaining the court order, this district judge -- it is in the district in georgia -- said that difficult and wrenching -- the policy -- creating profound issues and institutional disruption and concluded that this policy will undoubtedly cause harm to patients and particularly those in rural areas. there is also mounting evidence that the united network for organ sharing and its c.e.o. have acted in disregard -- and i would say callous disregard -- throughout the development of this policy. the same areas have the highest donation rates and play an enormous role in the lifesaving transplant system. the people who live there are the ones being harmed. those who crafted this system continually disregard the evidence and show that these areas are suffering under the weight of h.h.s.'s new policy.
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as i said before, this policy tosses aside all public concerns from patients, transplant surgeons, hospitals and best practices to improve the availability of organs across the nation. there is no reason to have a regional fight. there are ways to do this to benefits all parts of the country. this limits the availability and access to donated organs and damages the ability for major transplant hospitals in the case of kansas, the university of kansas hospital, to perform these services for patients. this is particularly frustrating because dating back to december 2017, the board of organ procurement and transplant network has approved an equitable liver transplant service that served the entire community's interest. this took years of consideration and that would better benefit the entire country based upon
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compromise by transplant experts, patients, and important stakeholders. that policy was abandoned. we were assured when it was abandoned that optn and the health resources would be considered. that policy that took years to develop and involved the evaluation of experts and a give-and-take in a process was overturned so easily. we were promised we'd have the opportunity for those who had concerns with this policy to have input, and the reality of that fact is that was a lie. it was not true. many concerns were made by patients, by transplant centers, by surgeons, and they were never considered by optn in their rushed process to finalize the policy. the reasons they were not considered is because of the overwhelming negative responses that caused the entire comment system to completely shut down. so people across the country commented on it. they'd commented in such
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frequency that the ability for the computer system to log -- the telephone system to log the input crashed and, of course, did the optn wait until they could get those comments and consider them? no, they made the decision without that input. in fact, the president of optn informed many comernts in the transplant community that concerns in the new policy were not even read by the board that approved the policy. many transplant hospitals, surgeons and medical professionals who had deep concerns took time out of their busy days to express them never were heard. they were ignored. these are the people who are tasked with saving lives with the transplants that they perform each and every day, yet their opinions were essentially deemed invalid. it appears that hrsa and optn making policy in such a reckless fashion has become the normal state of affairs and despite the continual efforts by senator blunt and i to get secretary
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azar to review, to modify, to consider, to reconsider, to put on hold this policy, we have had no success. additional oversight is desperately needed to restore some semblance of common sense in the actions and policies that are being taken and deployed. i'm deeply disappointed in the actions of secretary azar, hrsa, optn, unos, this process has been flawed from the start to finish, guided by not what is best for the country but how best to sidestep a specific single lawsuit. organ procurement and allocation policy is too important to be decided in this fashion. mr. secretary, secretary azar, the university of kansas health system typically performs eight liver transplants per month. since this policy that has been implemented under your administration, they have performed zero, zero transplants since its implementation as a direct result of the policy. current estimates are at k.u.,
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the hospital, it may take up to six months before they're able to provide another one of these lifesaving donation organ operations. meanwhile those on the transplant list in kansas watch their wait times grow and their hope begins to dwindle. and this really is a lot about hope. it's about saving lives. but if you are on a list that continually grows longer while you're waiting for that organ, what a depressing, discouraging circumstance for you and your family. secretary azar's policy is causing direct harm to the people of my state. it is time that he steps up and takes responsibility for the actions of his department which is causing real harm to patients. these transplant hospitals from across missouri and kansas and elsewhere wrote the president, wrote secretary azar within the last two weeks asking for a halt in the policy until we have the time to let a judge decide the issues in the court case and
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also to make sure that we get it right ultimately. i call on secretary azar to halt the implementation of this disastrous policy and save lives from being unnecessarily lost. and again i thank my colleague from just across the state line, the home of the kansas city chiefs for his support in this effort. he has a voice that has to be heard, will be heard. and i'm pleased to be aligned with him in his concern for patients in my state and patients in his own. mr. president, i --. a senator: in closing, mr. president,. mr. moran: i say this policy is --. mr. blunt: i say this policy is shortsighted, wrong, rushed to implementation and there was no reason for those things to happen and i yield back. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: it is february 12 and i'm here to remark on a anniversary and tell a story. and it is quite appropriate that senator leahy should be here on the floor with mean because he is a great friend to vietnam and
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done great work in the u.s.-vietnam relationship and we're about to be joined by senator carper. this story goes back to february 12, 1973. february 12, 1973, was the day that our p.o.w.'s were freed in vietnam. i told this story to dan sullivan when we were having dinner together a few months ago, and he said sheldon, you should tell that story on the senate floor and put it in the senate record. so at dan's suggestion, i am here today. what happened on february 12, 1973? well, two things happened. the first was that the prisoners held in north vietnam were released at the hanoi airport and delivered into u.s. custody. and that went quite smoothly. the north was organized. the prisoners were there. the planes were there.
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and our prisoners, released from north vietnamese custody, this one will look familiar to many of us here. that is our colleague john mccain. and that day they climbed aboard their aircraft and went to the philippines for medical treatment. down at the airport in saigon things were a little bit different. huey helicopters had been sent off to the rally point at loch nin where our helicopters were to pick up 27 american prisoners of war who were held by the viet cong and that did not go smoothly. the helicopters took off, the military aircraft with that hospital insignia were waiting
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for our soldiers and foreign service officers to come out. actually the longest held foreign service officer in the group that was coming out, longdz -- longest held p.o.w. coming out was a foreign service officer who had been held for more than seven years. so they were all waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. and there were disagreements and uncertainties and suspicions. and so the day when the p.o.w.'s were supposed to return and come to tonsoonut wore noolg evening and into into the. while everybody was waiting, there were some dignitaries there. this is the u.s. ambassador to vietnam at the time, ambassador ellsl worth bunker. this was the deputy ambassador,
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the first time the u.s. embassy had two ambassador ranked officials because the operation was so big in vietnam. the deputy ambassador was a guy named charles sheldon whitehouse, who was my father. and because he was there and because i was visiting, one of a very small group of dependents who were in vietnam at the time, i was there. so i was on the field at ton tonsonut during that long day as we waited for the prisoners to come out as we tried to get intel on what was holding things up, why the helicopters were not bringing them back. the day became night and they brought out huge klieg lights that lit up the field and i can still remember the bright insects flying around against the light against the dark sky on the hot tarmac of the airport and we waited and waited and we did not know what was going to happen or what had gone wrong. then late into the night we
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finally heard the familiar sound, the sound of the helicopters coming which every person who spent time in vietnam during that conflict remembers very, very well. and pretty soon they came close enough that you couldn't just hear them. you could see them. you could see the red belly lights flashing on the helicopters. and what happened is something that i will remember always. obviously after many years like this, memories can fade a little, but i think i've got this right because it struck me very much at the time. the helicopters came in and they hovered in a row over the airfield. anybody who knows helicopters knows that the easiest thing to do is to fly them forward. it's harder to hover the helicopter than it is to fly it
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forward. and it's harder to hover a helicopter near the ground because of the variations in the ground effect than it is to hover it up high. and which is very hard, which shows a mastery of helicopter piloting is to be able to hover low above the ground in traffic with other helicopters around beating the air and making it difficult to stay in place. so here came these helicopters, and they lined up one behind the other at a hover, maybe four or five feet off the ground. and you could hear the whine of the engines. you could hear the beating of the rotors. the air was all kicked up by the wind that they had put up. but those pilots held that position.
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i've never spoken to any of those pilots, but i took it as their last salute to their prisoner of war friends as they brought them out to freedom and ultimately to home, that this was their way they could show their skill and salute these men coming home. and then all at once, it must have been a signal on the radio, all of the helicopters -- i remember maybe eight or ten of them -- all settled down at once to the land. and all the skids hit the pavement and they all wobbled and then settled. and the engines kept roaring for a minute. and then on another signal all the engines shut off. and you could hear them winding down and you could hear the blades slow down and you would hear the quiet fall over tan son nhut airfield. and out of those helicopters
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came these speck tral men -- spectral men, these pale, undernourished, often ill men. one had to be carried out on a stretcher. one of them was photographed greeting ambassador bunker. how glad he must have been to see a u.s. ambassador. i don't know that there was any time in the history of the united states foreign service when anyone was more happy to see a united states ambassador than these men coming off those helicopters were to see our ambassador and to know that they were on their way home. a reporter, one of the legendary vietnam reporters named fox butterfield wrote about this evening a story from "the new york times." and he closed his story with this.
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with ambassador bunker and with my father was also fred land, the overall commander of u.s. forces. here's how he closed out the story. after the freed men had boarded the plane for the flight to clark air force base, general wyand put his arm around general john vought, the commander of the seventh air force. they stood looking at the departing hospital plane. it's the greatest day we've ever had in vietnam general wyand said. i had the chance to share that day, i had the chance to see what those remarkable pilots did in thairl -- their final salute to their colleagues and i thank dan sullivan for urging me to come to the floor on this day
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february 12 in celebration of their freedom. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, while the distinguished senior senator from rhode island is on the floor, i want to mention, and i see the distinguished senator from missouri here too, i want to mention that i had the privilege of being just within the past year on the lawn at our embassy in saigon. and i stood there when a group of people, military, other senators, republicans and democrats, and people from the state department stood there mesmerized as senator whitehouse recounted what he had seen. and i think to a person every one of us had the same reaction.
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we stood there, we looked around. we could feel the helicopters. we could hear the helicopters. we could see it. but mostly i saw the face of my dear friend, the senator from rhode island, heard what he said, and what he was saying was showing also his pride in being an american and seeing what we had done. so i thank senator whitehouse for recounting that again. and, mr. president, on another subject, on iran, i note that last month the united states and iran came frighteningly close to war. if any of iran's missiles had killed american soldiers at those military bases in iraq, president trump would have reap acted very -- would have reacted very differently and
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most likely without consulting congress. and i would suggest rather than congratulatory statements by the white house which depicted a brazen multirocket attack that failed to kill, rather than calling that a victory, you should know we could be in the midst of a power out of control. obviously i think of the soldiers who have had injury -- brain injuries from -- from the attack, injuries that the president said they had some headaches. well, those who have actually served in the military and were not able to get permits to serve in the military would know that an attack like that does give you a lasting injuries. but let's think of the nightmare
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scenario we have to avoid. we'd been on a path with the war of iran since president trump recklessly abandoned the nuclear agreement and had no strategy and there was nothing to replace it and today the possibility of war with iran remains real. for too long presidents have sent forces to iran without consulting congress. congress has been a willing party. it's abdicated its constitutional responsibility as the sole branch of government with the authority to declare war. they've abdicated by permitting the misappropriation of open-ended and outdated authorizations for the use of military force. and the result is endless wars the american people don't support at a cost of thousands
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of americans lives lost, trillions of dollars spent that could have been far better used fixing problems here in our own countries with those same u.s. taxpayer dollars. now, no one denies any president's right to act in self-defense to respond to imminent threat if reliable intelligence shows that such a threat exists. but neither is it credible to rely on authorization for the use of force to remove saddam hussein, an authorization that was based on lies by the white house about nonexistent weapons of mass destruction to just attacks against iran nearly two decades later. not a single member of this body voted for that use of force in 2002, and i did not because i had actually read the intelligence and realized the stories coming from the white
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house were not true. not a single member though who voted for the force could honestly say they imagined or intended that that authorization and use of force in iraq would be used to justify armed hostilities against iran so many years later. a few weeks ago a top administration official said it would be a mistake for the senate to even have a debate about the president's war powers. he said it would embolden iran's leaders if they saw the difference of opinions among us. has this person ever read a history book? have they ever read our constitution? do they know anything about this country? it would be wrong to show that a democracy like the u.s. has different opinions. what's what -- that's what the
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administration officials say it would be wrong to show that a democracy like the united states might have different opinions. in fact, he suggested we should be like a dictatorship which does not allow any opinion other than the dictator. that is so beneath the united states of america. that is so beneath our constitution. that is so beneath what we believe in to be told by an administration that we shouldn't even debate an issue like this. as others have said, including senators in the president's party, that's an insult, it's dangerous, it belies a fundamental lack of understanding of congress's role in this democracy. others, including the president, have falsely accused democrats
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of sympathizing with soleimani and the ayatollah. that kind of baseless, partisan slander and fear amongering is what we have come to expect with this white house, but it belittles the office of the presidency just as a statement from the administration saying we should not allow any voices that might disagree. but too many of our friends in the other party, unlike the way the senate was when i was first here, have adopted a practice of remaining mute by saying nothing, they condone such reprehensible behavior. one can only wonder how they would react if the tables were turned and they were the targets of such despicable ad hominem attacks because under the constitution it's our job, it's our responsibility to debate and
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vote, especially when it involves war and peace and the lives of our service men and women and their families. i would make one suggestion to our president. take the time and read the constitution. i would say to those in this body who tend to ignore what the constitution says, read the constitution. think of the lives lost, and the families destroyed, the millions of innocent people forced to flee the country and the huge amounts of tax dollars wasted because of that fateful vote in 2002, a vote from a lack of real debate, a vote that made the world less safe. we can't afford to repeat that
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unforgivable mistake. this resolution, of which i'm a cosponsor, ensures that debate will happen and that we'll have another chance to exercise our authority under article 1 of the constitution and actually do what's right. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. carper: , mr. president, our presiding officer, if i'm not mistaken, a veteran himself. i want to say army. navy salutes army. i want to express my thanks to senator whitehouse for his comments relating to the vietnam war. i stand before you as the last
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vietnam veteran standing in the united states senate with the death of john mccain. i had the privilege of leading a bipartisan delegation, three democrats, three republicans, back to southeast asia to try to find out what happened to our m.i.a.'s in 1981, vietnam, cambodia, laos and one of the people with me, a gorbachev-like character which we visited with that we carried with us, wrote a map. it was not north vietnam, south vietnam. it was vietnam. out of those meetings we started something good and led to the normalizing relations. john mccain worked it here, our bipartisan codel worked is in the house. one of the members of the codel
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was a former p.o.w., air force, shot down over vietnam, his name was. mr. peters: -- mr. carper: his name was pete peterson. i remember every time i run down to the lincoln memorial and run back to the capitol, i run back to the vietnam memorial. i want to express my thanks to sheldon whitehouse, senator whitehouse, for raising up our colleagues, my brothers and sisters as he just did. mr. president, i wanted to begin by asking unanimous consent that jerry gonase and kristin butler be granted floor privileges. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: mr. president, i rise today with a message to our
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colleagues and to this world that we inhabit. climate change has become the greatest threat to our planet. this is the -- there are others, this is the greatest. this was designed by a climate scientist named ed hawk inns -- hawks in. this is our average temperature from 1850 to 2018. going from deep blue to a brilliant orange and red. what this fails to capture is how menacing these rising temperaturing will be for years to come. our rising seas are at the highest levels ever recorded. our nation's leading scientist have warned if we fail to reduce carbon emissions now, by the end of this century, we may witness
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sea-level rise another six feet. i'm six feet tall. it would put a large part of the united states and frankly other nations around the world under water. the east coast and west coast won't look like it does today. for america alone it would result in an estimated $3.6 trillion in cumulative damages to our country's coastal properties. think gulf coast, west coast, east coast, great lakes, $3.6 trillion in damage to our coastal properties an infrastructure over the next 70 years. the flood insurance program for our country, the last time i checked billions of dollars, maybe tens of billions of dollars under water in the red. ice caps melt, sea levels rise, we know that extreme weather that we're witnessing throughout the world is not going to get
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better, it's going to get worse. the devastating hurricanes, typhoons and torrential rains, and the fueled wildfires and droughts and will become more dangerous and disruptive to our economy and our lives. let's look at where that happened just last month. this is a visual, a real picture, it's not a movie, as it real picket -- it is a real picture, australia. millions of acres of forest were scorched. an area as big as my state of delaware. three american firefighters -- it was estimated that 500 million animals died in the bush fires. more recently that was doubled to one billion animals died. one billion in one country. our country, meanwhile, has been no stranger to travesty and
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wildfires fueled by drought and heat. we could face wildfire seasons that could burn up five times more area of forests each year than today. the wildfire seasons that burn up to six times more forest area each year than today. if we do nothing to address carbon emissions, the extreme weather events we're experiencing now will pail in comparison. some 13 agencies across the trump administration released a report that predicted that the united states could see climate-related losses up to $5 billion. if we do nothing, the effects of climate change could slash up to 10% of our gross domestic product. more than double the losses of
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the great recession. how much is 10% of our g.d.p.? more than double the losses of the great recession. this is something provided for us i think by the united nations and called u.n. warning in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, the world's leading scientists have warned us we need to limit global warming to a half-degree increase in celsius, period. to do that, humanity would have to degree greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by the next century. we're not on track to reach that goal. we are dangerously close to losing our only shot. as the latest united nations annual emissions gap made clear, the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is
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running out. we need to step up. we need to step up our game. this is a chart that indicates the countries that are not in the paris accords. it looks like -- i'm looking at all these countries here. i see only one that's in red. that must be the only country today that is not in the paris agreement. a climate crisis is one that can be solved only by everyone who shares this plan coming together and working together as one. that's why nearly 200 nations came together in common cause to implement the climate paris agreements and why they're working together to find solutions to clievment -- climate crisis. ?efl -- instead of leading the world in this fight america stands alone. we know we have the tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but under the trump
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administration, e.p.a.'s policies have been used to increase, not decrease. president trump is putting us in the slow lane while the world goes towards a global green economy. president trump claims we must choose between a l healthy economy on one side and a healthy planet on the other side. in the words of a good friend of mine, that my friend is malarkey, or in the words of the president, that's, fill in the blank and come up with whatever you do. choosing between environmental progress and economic growth is a false choice. on the one hand, we do face a very real choice, one was made clear when the u.n. report was released this past december. we either act now on climate change or, quote, we face the consequences of a planet that has been radically altered by climate change, close quote.
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i say let's choose to save our one and only planet earth. and i say it is time for the u.s. to once again lead the world in this fight. next chart, we're going to look at the clean economy act which we introduced yesterday with over 30 cosponsors. i introduced it with our colleagues, 33 of them actually, legislation that will put the united states on a path to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. the clean economy act heeds the call for climate action while fostering economic growth that is fair for everyone. the clean economy act empowers e.p.a. to use the authorities and tools already at its disposal to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than midcentury, by no later than 2050. this is the quickest way we can jump-start government-wide climate action by empowering
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agencies to use the tools they already have. the clean economy act builds upon successful climate programs in states and cities and private companies and ensures economy-wide climate change action continues regardless of who sits in the oval office. our legislation sets important guardrails to make sure all americans reap the benefits as we move our country toward net zero emissions. and here are three examples of those protections. the clean economy act minimizes cost. first, e.p.a. must maximize greenhouse gas emission reductions while minimizing costs to consumers and providing regulatory flexibility to industry. next, the chart basically prioritizing environmental justice. e.p.a. must consider under our legislation and protect front
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line communities. we know climate change disproportionately affects impoverished and disadvantaged communities, communities of color and indigenous communities. more often than not these communities are downwind from dangerous pollution located near industrial facilities or factories or located in areas already experiencing flooding and extreme weather fueled by climate change. this legislation, our legislation will prioritize input from investment in those communities. our next chart on the clean economy act prioritizes american workers. the clean economy act focuses on american competitiveness and on the american worker. our legislation compels e.p.a. to use american workers, domestic materials and strong labor standards to get the job done. relying on our country's challenge to make the transition to net zero emissions by no later than 2050.
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no later than 2050. the clean economy act also requires e.p.a. to work with other federal agencies to protect and uplift communities and workers displaced or dislocated by our transition to a cleaner economy in places like west virginia where my sister and i were born. this legislation would not come at the is expense of jobs or economic growth. moving toward a clean economy will drive innovation and create millions of new jobs here at home. the clean economy act is about realizing our true economic potential, potential that under this administration sadly has gone untapped. the clean economy act hits what we call the sweet spot, the sweet spot between organized labor, business community, environmental group support. and i just want to thank the many organizations who helped us
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in crafting our bill, the clean economy act, including the environmental defense fund, moms clean air force, the league of conservation voters, nrdc, environment america blue-green alliance, utility workers. i also want to thank the organizations who joined me yesterday in unveiling this legislation, including the united steel workers, sierra club, national wildlife federation. to say the least it's disappointing that president trump has decided to abandon the tremendous economic opportunity to create millions of additional clean energy jobs. there are already three million, already three million clean energy jobs. they are sadly for folks in west virginia and wyoming, places like that, for them they've lost a lot of coal mining jobs. they're down i think about 65,000. but folks who can be trained to mine coal can be trained to
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create windmills, windmills farms off of our coast. folks who have the skills to be able to mine coal have the ability to help create corridors of fueling stations or hydrogen or natural gas in corridors across our country to create charging stations for electric powered vehicles in heavily traveled corridors in our country. what we need to do, part of our policy, part of what we tried to do in this legislation is to make sure that we look out for those workers and help make sure they have a place to go and a way to support themselves and their family while at the same time leading us to cleaner air to breathe and a healthier planet to call home. i think it's shameful, not just unfortunate, i think it's shameful this president has forsaken our country's leadership in his fight for our one and only planet, abandoned allies for the sake of misplaced political gain. and i think it will be a dark
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indelible stain on his legacy. but while president trump may not be up for the climate challenge, my colleagues, our colleagues and i are here to say to the world that the majority of americans are ready for it. we're ready for that challenge. we have faith in american innovation. we have faith in american workers to take on this climate fight and win it. the clean economy act will put the united states on a path to once again lead the world in the fight against climate change while lifting up american communities and american workers. this bill corrects our president's failure to lead on this issue and directs e.p.a. and other agencies to move swiftly to address this serious problem for the good of our planet and for the strengthening of our economy and creation of even more new jobs. a famed economist once said these words, all the great leaders have one characteristic in common. it was a willingness to confront
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unequivocally major anxiety of their people and their time. this and not much else is the essence of leadership. that's worth repeating. all the great leaders we have had share one common characteristic. that's the willingness to confront unequivocally major anxiety of their people and their time. this and not much else, he said, is the essence of leadership. i'm tom carper, and i approve that message. the clean economy act is our message to the rest of the world about climate leadership. the united states is preparing to once again lead the fight against this climate crisis. america, let's roll. now, madam president, i note
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the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. a senator: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: yes, we are. mr. udall: i would ask to vitiate the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. carper: would the senator -- would the senator from utah --. mr. udall: the senator from new mexico will yield. mr. carper: i'm sorry. i'm losing it. thank you. i -- former vice president joe biden has been blessed with many wonderful staff members over the years and one of them is a fellow named john dilatary. i would like to mention him. he's a giant that passed away, been a giant in our state in service and also in the military. madam president, if i could, and i thank the senator for yielding to me, i rise today on behalf of our congressional
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delegation from delaware, senator coons and congresswoman rochester in contribute to the late john m. dilitario, a dedicated public servant who proudly served our state and country throughout his career and life. john was a happy warrior, in the military for many years, in his service to the people of delaware, in his support for a multitude of nonprofits that focused on helping people in need. he is one of the people who loves people. and they loved him just as much. john exemplified what it means to be the go-to person to get things done. his relationships and friendships with people throughout our state enabled him to get things done with speed and dispatch. and i would add with a sense of joy. john's persistence and ability to work a room and make concessions, make connections, his strong worth ethic and ever present sense of humor were the core of what made john so successful. his impressive career includes
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serving as state director. we know how important our state directors are, in new mexico, delaware, and tennessee. he was state director for senator joe biden. his longtime friend, former university of delaware classmates. they were classmates together for a number of years. it also included more than 30 years of combined services as a decorated officer in both the delaware and the maryland army national guard. and he had an impressive career in addition to that. for over 26 years with the campbell's soup company, their vice president of human resources. john gave freely of his time serving on boards, the democratic military academy -- the delaware military academy, a blue ribbon public high school. he served on the board at the freedom foundation at valley forge, leukemia society, u.s. service academy selection
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committee, saint elizabeth's, count ethics commission among a few. he was committed to his family including his wonderful wife marlene for 30 years. their children and grandchild and many friends that he made along the way. on behalf of, madam president, my friend from new mexico, i want to, and on behalf of senator chris coons and congresswoman blunlt rochester i'm privileged to rise today to invoke the name of john dilatario. people from many walks of life loved being with him. i'm one of them. the people of delaware and our country are fortunate to count john as a fellow delawarean. the world is a better place to live and work because of his stewardship. i'll close with the words of another beloved delawarean who used to say this to us, to me.
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he would say if you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap. he would say if you want to be happy for a week, take a vacation. if you want to be happy for a lifetime, help people. think about that. if you want to be happy for an hour, take a nap. if you want to be happy for a week take a vacation. if you want -- he helped people. i said earlier he was a happy warrior. boy, he was. boy, we're going to miss him. thank you for allowing me to make these comments. thank you so much. mr. udall: madam president. the presiding officer: the senator from new mexico. mr. udall: thank you, madam president. thank you for the recognition and very much appreciate senator carper talking about the wonderful young employees that
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we have around us and the young people that we have come here that are dedicated and work and you've got some great one on committee. i see mary frann sis behind -- francis behind you and i have matthew on my right. there are so many young people who come to washington and live in washington and they are dedicated to see them do a good job. it was wonderful to hear you talk about that young man. madam president, i rise to confirm the congress's constitutional authority to declare war and to support the war powers resolution before us. the chilling events of last month bring into stark belief why it is needed. the president brought us to the edge of war with iran by an attack on its top general. we must pass this resolution
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because even if the president does not respect the plain words of the constitution, the members of this body should. look in this -- look at this chart here. here they are clear as day. the congress shall have power to declare war. the congress alone has the power to declare war. the president does not. i did not come to this view recently. i held the same view under president obama's administration. i spoke up against his plans for airstrikes in syria and i voted against an authorization for those airstrikes in the senate foreign relations committee. so ert whether -- so whether you support war with iran or not, i urge every single member here to stand up for our constitution and vote for this resolution.
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last month, as we were on the brink of war with iran, the whole nation and the whole world watched on edge, braced for conflict, bloodshed, and terror. yet to this day this administration has not provided a serious justification for the strike on general soleimani. the administration claimed the 2002 authorization for use of military force against iraq justified the strike, but the aumf, which i voted against, authorizes force, and i quote here, against the continuing threat posed by iraq, not any threat posed by iran. and that authorization was passed in 2002, and here we are 18 years later and it's been
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used -- being specifically used to get us into another conflict. the administration claims soleimani posed an imminent threat to u.s. troops, diplomats, and citizens, but the administration gave no convincing evidence to the congress or to the american people that attack on iran in u.s. interest was imminent or that the killing would stop such an imminent attack. during the senate briefing when we asked questions trying to get real answers about the ed and why they didn't seek congressional approval, the administration wouldn't answer our questions. one republican senator at the briefing that we had from administration officials, he called that briefing, he called it worst briefing he had ever had. he said it was insulting and demeaning. while the president claimed on
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twitter without evidence that iran had targeted four u.s. embassies, his own secretary of defense disavowed that claim. the mission was planned months in advance and was even broader than general soleimani. that's not a response to an imminent threat. that's an unauthorized and thus unconstitutional act of war. in the end, the president all but admitted was retaliatory, not defensive. when he tweeted that any justification for the strike, and i quote here, doesn't really matter because of soleimani's horrible past. end quote. this president has misled the public on many things, big and small. it's clear that he will mislead us on the most consequential matters we face, war and peace.
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he cannot be entrusted with the sole power to risk lives of american troops in war, and he does not have that power under our constitution. the president's strike took us to the edge of an unauthorized war, but we didn't get here overnight. the president's unilateral decision to withdraw from the iran nuclear agreement in may of 2018, combined with his disastrous maximum pressure campaign, destabilized the region. since we pulled out of the nuclear agreement, the president dramatically increased the number of troops in the middle east despite his campaign promise to do the opposite. between may and december of last year, the president deployed an additional 15,000 troops to the middle east. days before the strike on soleimani, he sent sent in 1,000
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more army and marine strikes, post strike he sent 3,500 more troops in response to our strike iran withdrew from the limits on the production of centrifuges, iranian enrichment and research, decreasing the time for iran to acquire enough fissile material for one bomb. the iraqi party voted to oust u.s. troops from iraq which could lead to an increased isis presence and we have refused to leave the congress, setting up a conflict with our ally iraq. our strike pushed the iraqi government and the people of iraq closer to iran. and unified the iranian people against us just as protests against the iranian government were sprouting up. the region is still a powder keg and we just don't know whether iranian proxy forces know when
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and where iranian proxy forces will attack our troops. and, finally, worst of all iran launched missile attacks against u.s. troops in iraq, risking american lives. while i am grateful no one was killed, i am anguished that more than 100 of our soldiers suffered from tra -- traumatic brain injury from the attack. while the president says he doesn't consider their injuries serious, i a agree with the -- i agree with the veterans of foreign war to apologize for that callous remark. the president's insult to injured service members is appalling and his injury to the constitution is deeply troubling. we have a president who claims he doesn't need congressional approval to go to war with iran. he's actually said under article 2 of the constitution he has, and i quote here, the right to do whatever i want as president.
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end quote. sounds like a claim of total unlimited power. that isn't what our constitution -- that isn't what our constitution was about. the founders of our constitution would be shocked to hear that, and even more shocked to learn, that congress refuses to act to assert its power. the founders rejected the notion that the president alone should have the power to send the country into war. they believed it unwise to vest the president, one person, with that power. and so they invested -- vested that decision with the people's representatives to make sure any war would have broad-based support. that decision makes as much sense today as it did 230 years ago. it's our job, the representatives of the people, to decide whether to go to war. and the american people do not
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want war with iran. yet, even if you disagree with the overwhelming will of the american people, the issue before us is not whether you would support war with iran or not, the issue is whether we are going to uphold our oath to support and defend the constitution. the war powers resolution before us exercises that constitutional prerogative, ending hostilities unless congress authorizes it. this president is fully capable of starting a war without getting congressional approval or even without consulting with us. he's already proved that. the stakes are too high. we cannot wait until the next time he orders a strike he can't justify with consequences no one can predict. we cannot wait until the next time he gambles with american
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soldiers' lives. now is the time to set straight the boundaries, not only for this president but for future ones as well. now is the time to vote -- to vote for this resolution and to send the president a message that there is no support in congress for an unconstitutional war of his own making. madam president, i yield the floor and i -- madam president, i yield the floor.
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a senator: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are not. mr. coons: madam president, i come to the floor to add my floor to the debate on the system of checks and balances that are extension to, that define our very democracy. i am here in no small part because of a series of events that unfolded slowly over 40 years and then with a sharper tempo near the end of last year and culminated in a strike by u.s. forces on january 3 that killed qasem soleimani of the quds force of the irgc of iran. that plea sip taitd a -- precipitated a series of briefings and debates here among senators and with constituents and today after an important 51-45 vote to proceed, we have
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debating this measure. this is senate joint resolution 68 from senators kaine, lee, and paul to direct -- islamic republic of iran that has not haven't authorized by congress. madam president, i want to make a few -- and the role of congress. my view we're at a critical inflection point in our nation, one where history will question whether we served our nation or served more partisan or parochial aims. to be clear, i do not seek or want a war between the united states and iran. i think our best path forward is a multilateral, several nations coming together initiative, to deescalate rising conflict between the united states and iran with so many -- with tens of millions of people displaced from their homes around the world, from conflicts ranging
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from syria and yemen to the democratic republic of the congo to central african republic, there's conflict in many places in our world. and our country has seen what happens in the absence of effective diplomacy. but i came to the floor today really in no small part because in the group briefings that happened after the strike that killed general soleimani, a number of points were made that i think deserve to be addressed. one a suggestion was made by one participant that simply debating whether or not the authorization for the use of military force that was adopted by congress back in 2001 or 2002 simply debating whether or not that authorized this strike, simply questioning whether or not this strike should be authorized and future actions authorized by this congress would weaken the morale of our troops, would send a signal to our enemies and adversaries of a lack of resolve by our nation.
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and so we in congress should simply allow the president under article 2 which gives to him the commander in chief responsibility to simply exercise the overwhelming capabilities of the united states and our tremendous armed forces to keep us safe and push back on our adversaries. and i don't think anything could be further from the truth. i actually think it strengthens our democracy when we engage in a robust and vigorous debate on this question. i actually think showing that we have confidence in our constitution and that we in the senate realize that over decades we have gradually allowed our central role in authorizing war to be weakened, that retaking some of that role is in fact showing confidence in our democracy. so let me be clear upfront. i support the men and women of the united states armed forces, and i have great confidence in their ability to carry out their mission. i am clear-eyed about the threat
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that iran, the islamic republic of iran poses to our interests to the region and to the world as one of the world's great state sponsors of terrorism, as one of the great sources of instability in the region, as a country that for 40-plus years has been genuinely opposed to much of what the united states believes in and tries to do in the region, i am clear-eyed both about supporting our troops and about the threat posed by iran. but if we are to do right by the men and women of the united states armed forces who we ask to go around the world and to serve us and to sacrifice for us and to keep us safe, we can do no less than to ask whether we are sending them with the full support of the american people. and this senate joint resolution 68 begins with a simple but important finding. congress has the sole power to declare war under article 1, section 8, clause 11 of the
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united states constitution, and congress has not yet declared war upon nor enacted a specific statutory authorization for the use of military force against iran. that makes a simple point. previous administrations of both parties have overused the authorizations for the use of military force passed here in 2001 and 2002. a majority of the currently-serving members, an overwhelming majority of the current serving members were not present for the debates that led to those authorizations and the fact patterns and circumstances take led to them being adopted have long since passed into history. and so if we in this chamber are to exercise our responsible role, we shouldn't simply let the president take the responsibility and possibly the blame for the conduct of war overseas, but we should take that responsibility back on ourselves. in 2001, congress authorized the use of force against alki today
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and -- alki today and associated forces based on the deadly strike in our territory that happened on 9/11 but did not authorize the use of force in iran. in 2002 congress did the same against saddam hussein's iraq which was iran's greatest enemies then and now. so frankly i think to suggest that either of these former authorizations for the use of military force or aumf's authorize this action goes way beyond its scope. i have heard from hundreds of constituents at home in delaware, their rising anxiety and concern. and i've heard from many both currently serving and formally -- formerly serving that we should do our job, that congress has a role, that we need to debate and demand a strategy from this administration and a path forward that we can articulate and defend. we are in a scenario now where
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the possibility of military conflict between the united states and iran is entirely foreseeable. president trump has drawn a line in the sign much as his predecessor did and said we will never let iran have a nuclear weapon. and with the united states having withdrawn from the iran nuclear deal, the jcpoa and with iran and our european allies increasingly farther and farther apart on their conduct and with iran restarting centrifuges and restarting enrichment, it is not an unforeseeable moment that whether weeks or months or years from now but quite possibly months a team from the senior ranks of our military will go to the president and say here is a range of options that might include striking iran. that is a fact pattern that requires congress to provide it authorization. yes, i recognize there are
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exigencies, there are there are emergencies to defend our interests at home and "broad. about you this entirely foreseeable scenario, one which we should all be working to avoid but which is foreseeable is exactly why i am supporting the bipartisan resolution introduced by senators kaine and lee. the united states senate must take back its responsibility for authorizing our armed forces to protect us overseas and we need to show clear-eyed support for our armed forces and for the path forward. president trump like all presidents before him does not have the authority to wage war without consulting this congress. and democrats and republicans are concerned about this administration's apparent indifference towards congress and its critical role in deciding matters of war and
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peace. the house has just passed two measures to restrict the president's war-making powers. the senate needs to have that same debate, that same discussion, and needs to take up and pass this resolution. this is how our system of government works best. through respectful disagreement, through thoughtful, informed debate, and through votes in both chambers to express the will of the american people. so let me close by saying this. to service members whom i meet in delaware, to many more serving are a the country and around the world, war should be our last resort. and if diplomacy should fail in this case or others, i will insist our administration produce a clear strategy and a mission for our troops that are service men and women can accomplish and that our congress provides our military with the resources and authorities they need. we are blessed with a system of democratic governance that challenges us. in times when stakes are highest to rise to the occasion and to earn our place in the history of
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this democratic republic. we do that by reaffirming our faith in our constitution, including article 1 which gives to this body the responsibility to weigh vital decisions of war and peace. with that, thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mr. cornyn: madam president, debates between the executive branch and congress over the power to conduct war is not a new topic, but i think in many ways this debate has been blown out of proportion. a lot of this has to do with the decision made by president trump to -- with the advice of his advisors to eliminate one of the worst terrorists in the middle east, qasem soleimani, who was
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plotting to burn down the american embassy in iraq and also threaten the lives of american troops, to take him off the battlefield. this is clearly within the president's authority under the constitution. it really isn't a matter whether congress needed to give him the authority to do that or not. i think we all agree that the president as commander in chief has to have his constitutional authority to defend american lives and american interests, and we don't have -- when congress doesn't have the time or, frankly, is not built for speed when it comes to addressing threats to national security like that. we do have a shared responsibility, but primarily the responsibility of the congress can be exercised through our appropriations authority. we can literally cut off the funds that the executive branch would use to conduct operations
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if congress sees fit. but if this resolution succeeds trks will tie the command -- it will tie the commander in chief's hands while the threat posed by iran and terrorist organizations like the iranian revolutionary guard corps and the quds force that was headed by general soleimani remains very high. actually, i think the president should be congratulated. in the words of former general david petraeus, he said what the president did by taking soleimani off the battlefield was reestablish some level of deterrence. in other words, if you're going to be stepping into the shoes of the head of the quds force and the rigc to leader i.r.s. attacks against the united states and our allies, you're going to have to think twice before you do that because you might end up in the same condition that general soleimani
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did. so reestablishing deterrence is very, very important because when our adversaries sense weakness, it is a provocation and an invitation to attack america and our allies and our interests. again, i know some of our friends were upset that general soleimani was taken out by a drone strike, but he was one of the most consequential military leaders in the middle east and was directly responsible for the death of hundreds of american service members, training shia militias in the war in iraq providing them with improvised explosive devices. actually they're designed so they literally will melt through armor like a hot knife through butter. that all came from iran and resulted in the death of hundreds of american service members. but when a successful mission
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carried out by u.s. forces finally brought an end to soleimani's rein of terror, our colleagues couldn't acknowledge the president's decisive action and it undoubtedly saved lives. my mind immediately went back to how did republicans and democrats act when president obama directed the raid that took out osama bin laden. we didn't draw partisan lines. we didn't say well, he didn't have the authority to do that so we're going to come back to congress and tie his hands for the fight in the war on terror. we didn't do that. it's like night and day, the reaction between the operation directed at taking out osama bin laden and the operation that took out general soleimani, the head of a terrorist organization from a country that is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world. as i said, i strongly disagree
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that with the claim that president trump's actions were outside his authority or that he should have come to congress and sowtd congressional a-- sought congressional approval before acting. you may remember, madam president, what congress was doing while the president was having to deal with this. the house was voting on articles of impeachment and then the senate had to conduct a trial of these impeachment articles. obviously it failed but it took up time where we literally could not have dealt with this emergency action and opportunity to take a world class terrorist off the battle fiel-- battlefie. this was clearly not only in the president's constitutional authority but it was also his duty to prevent and stop threats against the united states, including those posed by the iranian regime and their allies and the shia militias, the other individual that -- one of the other individuals that died in
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the attack directed at soleimani was a leader of the shia militias in iraq that had been plotting the destruction of the u.s. embassy there and perhaps even a hostage situation like we saw in 1979. but also plotting attacks against american service members there assisting the iraqi people in trying to rebuild their government and provide them a means to govern themselves safely and to eliminate the terrorist threat. but passing this resolution would limit the president's authority to defend american service members against imminent attacks and would place our troops further in harm's way. so i will vote against the resolution, madam president, and i would implore our colleagues to do the same. i know in an era of trump deringment syndrome, anything that the president is for, some people are reflexively against. and i think this falls in that
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category. again, i don't question the motives of members of congress in wanting to make sure that the shared powers that congress and the president have to wage war, i don't question their motives to try to find the appropriate balance. but here i think we stepped across the line literally to try to tie the president's hand as a punishment for conducting a fully authorized operation against one of the world's worst terrorists, something we should applaud rather than condemn. madam president, on another matter, over the last year, we've witnessed unprecedented footdragging, political gamesmanship and downright obstruction by our democratic colleagues in congress on a number of bills. they've derailed the
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appropriations proficiency they've knuckle-dragged during important trade negotiations, and they've held up things that used to have nonpartisan support, things like the debbie smith act, designed to fund the testing of untested rape kits. this has been an area of broad bipartisan consensus. it should be nonpartisan. but the house of representatives we saw dragging their feet in order to gain leverage against the senate for months and allowed the debbie smith act to expire, along with potentially threatening the funding to eliminate the rape kit backlog. but the latest tactics have now been deployed. if you thought that was about as low as things could get, the latest tactic is to weaponize the violence against women act. this is more than a 25-year program, and at the forefront of our commitment to support victims of domestic violence and
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sexual assault, and until recently it always had been high above the political fray. the first time these -- this program came up for reauthorization, there were disagreements over some aspects of the bill, but we were able to work together and reach a compromise. that's the only way anything gets done around here. bipartisan compromise. but when this came time to reauthorize -- but when it came time to reauthorize the violence against women act last year, some in the house and some in the senate saw an opportunity to score political points -- not solve a problem, not reauthorize a program we all agree is important and necessary, but they saw it as a political weapon. they allowed vawa, the violence against women act, to get caught in the crosshairs of a funding debate and insisted we should not fund this vital program because it was overdue for updates. well, let me be clear.
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both sides agree there are things we could do to improve the violence against women act, and that's what our colleague from iowa, senator ernst, has been leading on our side. but this my way or the highway legislative strategy isn't the approach that's designed to get anything done, and vital funding for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault should never, ever be used as leverage to gain political advantage. though our colleagues allowed the authorization of the violence against women act to expire, thankfully saner heads prevailed. it did receive record funding levels last year, but that doesn't mean we're in the clear. we need to figure out a long-term solution that will reauthorize this important program. as the presiding officer knows -- as we all know, there has to be an authorization bill and then funding to meet the terms of that authorization.
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so we need both. last fall we thought we were making good progress. as i said, senator ernst spent months working with a bipartisan group of senators, including senator feinstein, the senior senator from california, trying to work on a compromise. but before these negotiations could be completed, democrats got up and left the negotiating table and headed straight for the tv cameras and held a press conference condemning republicans for not falling into line on their partisan bill. well, what was the big news at the press conference? not that a deal had been reached or that negotiations were making progress. the democratic leadership marched up to the microphones and said, they'd be introducing a near replica of the house's partisan bill, which doesn't have the support needed to pass it in the senate. during the press conference, one of our colleagues, the senator from hawaii, even considered --
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conceded five times that the bill was going nowhere, proving that our democratic colleagues had no intention of introducing a bill that could become law. if this sounds familiar, if we've seen this -- if you've seen this movie before, well that's because we went through the same exercise pack in 2012 and 2013. our democratic colleagues used this issue to attack republicans up for reelection for not supporting their partisan bill at that time, after they'd chose not to negotiate in good faith for a bipartisan bill. so i think that's what's happening again. they're not interested in reauthorizing the violence against women act. if they were actually interested in solving a problem, we would solve the problem and get it passed. but they'd rather have the issue that they can use in their campaigns for november and show
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contempt, frankly, for the people who would benefit from passing the violence against women act and turn this into purely a partisan issue. i believe that our colleague from california, senator feinstein, wants to get a bipartisan bill done. i've worked with her a number of times on a number of pieces of legislation. she is a good partner to work with on the other side of the aisle. i know her commitment to continue negotiating with senator ernst is genuine. but, frankly, i don't think she's pulling the strings on the democratic side. i think our colleague, the democratic leader, is the one preventing negotiations here because his main goal, as we've seen through the impeachment circus and elsewhere, is to become the next majority leader, and he thinks this is the best weapon that democrats can use to beat republicans running for the senate in 2020.
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how shameful is that? how degrading and disrespectful is that? -- to the people who would benefit from the passage of a consensus, bipartisan violence against women act? i can only hope that cooler heads will prevail, that our colleagues across the aisle -- principally the democratic leader -- will just quit weaponizing this dispute over vawa and return to the negotiating table. but until then, we'll keep working on a bill that could win the support of folks on both sides. senator ernst produced such a bill, an alternative to the bill produced by senate democrats, and i'm proud to cosponsor that legislation. overall, this bill sends more funding and resources to the victims of assault, sexual assault, and sexual abuse than does the democrat bill, and it authorizes the program for twice
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as long. that's critical to protecting the violence against women act from the kind of partisan games that we're seeing played out today. and giving the department of justice the stability it needs to plan for the future, because it's the department of justice that hands out the grants to the various organizations that provide aid and comfort to victims of sexual assault. while this increased funding would be a welcome victory for the program, it's only part of what sets this bill apart. it goes further than other reauthorizations by addressing a number of horrific crimes that are being committed against women and girls in our country -- sex trafficking, for example, is not always recognized as a form of sexual assault, and this bill would change that. it also enhances the maximum criminal penalties for sexual abuse of minors and other vulnerable groups. it takes aim at heinous crimes like mutilation, and it addresses crimes in rural areas
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and on tribal lands. this bill also takes aim at relatively new threats, like when abusive images and videos are posted online. it will empower victims of this kind of abuse to remove the content from the internet by using copyright takedown authority. unlike the democrat bill, this legislation includes provisions of a number of bipartisan bills that have been introduced by our colleagues in the senate. one example is a bill i introduced with senator feinstein called the heels act, which would remove some of the hurdles that exist between victims of domestic violence and safe housing. one of the toughest things for a victim of sexual violence is finding a safe place to live. this bipartisan bill that senator feinstein and i have included, we've included in senator ernst's version of the violence against women act reauthorization. this provision includes greater
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flexibility for transitional housing, so survivors can get back on their feet without fear of losing the roof over their head or exposing themselves to their attacker. the violence against women act is a lifeline for countless survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. we need to come together to reauthorize this critical program. the bill introduced by senator ernst includes a range of bipartisan proposals to strengthen the violence against women act without the poison pills being offered by the democrats' version. i can only hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will return to the negotiating table and work with us to finally reauthorize the violence against women act. this is simply too important to use as a partisan bludgeon during the run-up to the 2020 election. we need to address the problem. we need to solve the problem.
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applying the 80/20 rule, if you can agree to 80% of it, let's get it done, and we can save the 20% we don't agree on for another day and another fight and not hold victims of sexual violence at risk, as the status quo currently does. madam president, i yield the floor. aa senator: senator madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from in maryland. mr. van hollen: thank you, madam president. and i hadn't planned to say anything about the violence against women arctic by given the remarks from my colleague from texas, let me just say that the bill that passed the house last year is here in the united states senate. while it's true it did not have a majority of republican house members supporting it, it did have republican votes in the house. it expands protections under the violence against women act, and,
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like many bills that pass the house that have very broad support, it is sitting right here in the united states senate. along with legislation that requires universal background checks to reduce gun violence, along with legislation to get secret money out of politics and make sure we refresh our democracy and reduce barriers to voting, along with many other bills, including a long overdue increase in the federal minimum wage. i would suggest that the best way to find out whether or not it in fact has majority support here in the united states national is to let us vote on it. and anyone who wants to vote against it, obviously, has a right to do so. but it might well surprise us and pass here and then we would have addressed a very important issue. madam president, i'm here today specifically to talk in support
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of the joint resolution offered by senator kaine of virginia that directs the u.s. president to remove troops from hostilities with iran without authorization from congress. the framers gave congress and congress only the power to declare war. as james madison noted -- and i quote -- the history of all governments demonstrates that the executive is the branch of of government most interested in war and, therefore, most prone to it. the constitution has, accordingly, with studied care, vested the question of war in the legislature, unquote. meaning in the senate and in the house of house of representatives. the framers did that because they didn't want one person and one person alone to be able to make such a momentous decision for the entire country.
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they wanted to have a clear check on the president's ability to send our sons and daughters into harm's way. the text of the constitution could not be more clear. article 1, section 8 states, quote, the congress, not the president, the congress shall have the power to declare war. unquote. the resolution before us is equally clear. it reaffirms congress' power and directs the president to terminate the use of united states armed forces for hostilities against the islamic republic of iran or any part of its government or military unless -- unless explicitly authorized by a decoration of -- declaration of war or specific authorization for the use of military force against iran. that's what the resolution says. i would hope my senate colleagues see this resolution for what it is, a clear and important reminder to the executive branch of the power granted to congress by the
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constitution. the much tougher votes would come on questions of whether or not to authorize military action in iran or any other circumstances, but this resolution, this resolution is a simple reaffirmation of our solemn duty to make these decisions. and whether or not we agree with president trump's approach to iran or the decision to strike iranian general qasem soleimani, we should all agree, all agree that any decision to go to war should be made by the congress, not by the president alone. the president's ability to protect the united states and our forces from an imminent threat or any other power granted to the president as commander in chief cannot and should not be a blank check, not for this president, not for any other president. so why are we here at this
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moment discussing this important issue? because just a short time ago we almost stumbled into a war with iran. and make no mistake, the tensions may not be playing out on our tv screens today, they may not be making headlines at this particular moment, but it's still a very dangerous and volatile time. the pot is still boiling and unless cooler heads prevail, it could boil over at any moment. and we cannot allow that to happen. we must not fall into another unnecessary war in the middle east and certainly no one should take the united states to war without a full debate here in the united states congress and a vote in the united states congress. so how did we get here?
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the trump administration came into office with one organizing principle. undo everything th the obama administration did. undo the affordable care act. get rid of the paris climate agreement and of course, get rid of the agreement to prevent iran from ob -- obtaining a nuclear weapon. mr. president, reversing the policies of a previous president is a campaign slogan. it is not a strategy for the national security of the united states. and in the case of iran, the trump administration put nothing realistic in its place. the fundamental idea behind the nuclear agreement with iran was simple and realistic. it recognized that iran is a malign influence in the region, but it also recognized that a nuclear armed iran engaged in
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malign activities in the region is even worse. and if our strategy could contain the soviet union, we could also apply a similar vote to iran -- similar strategy to iran. so the agreement to prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon known as the jcpoa, came from a deliberate strategy and painstaking negotiations to unite key powers, powers that are often in disagreement, ally, competitors and adversaries, including britain, france, germany, the european union, china, and russia. together we created an enforced truly global sanctions regime, to bring iran to the negotiating table to reach an agreement, and it was that unity and pressure that succeeded in reaching the agreement to prevent iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. and it was working. under the agreement iran committed to dismantle large
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sections of its nuclear infrastructure, to severely limit its production of uranium and plutonium. it agreed to intrusive around the clock inspections and was complying with its obligations under the nuclear agreement and we were succeeding in pushing back iran's so-called breakout time, the time it would need to build a nuclear weapon. and even this administration agreed with the international community that iran was complying with the agreement. so there was no need to beat the drums of war. then comes the trump administration with many of the same people who got us into the unnecessary war in iraq, and they took a different path. instead of working to build on the agreement to prevent iran from obtaining nuclear -- a nuclear weapon, they tore it up. and they alienated our allies who even to this day are still
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working to salvage that agreement. and instead of building on the progress that we'd made, president trump launched a campaign of what he called, quote, maximum pressure which has resulted only in total failure. secretary pompeo made 12 demands of iran as part of the maximum pressure strategy. and the administration has not achieved any of them. not a single one. instead faced with increased economic pressure, iran predictably lashed out. instead of dialing down its malign activities in the region, it has intensified them. tensions have increased. and without any end game, any sign that this administration will negotiate in good faith or any sign of that, iran has no incentive to change course. it's long past time that we have a strategy that recognizes
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simple political geography. we must recognize iran has a strong hand in iraq. they are neighbors. they share a long border. they are both majority shia countries. nothing we can do here will change those facts. but instead of recognizing realities on the ground and smartly countering iran's natural advantages in the region, this administration's policies actually strengthened iran's hands. in short it has taken a bad situation and made it much worse. and in this very combustible mix, a single spark can ignite a war. and that almost happened just a very short time ago. we were on the brink. and we learned recently that the original action that set off the sequence of escalation may have been based on a mistake.
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iraq had -- an iraqi military compound where we had u.s. forces providing some training and took the life of an american contractor in iraq. the trump administration claimed that the rocket was fired by an iraqi militia force backed by iran. but just very recently iraq, our ally iraq says that the rocket may have been fired not by iranian-backed militia but by isis. we don't know because the administration hasn't shared any of that intelligence with us. acting on what have may have been a false assessment from the start, we then saw a series of escalatory actions and then when things appeared to be cooling down, the president ordered a strike against iran's top
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military leader while he was visiting iraq. now, mr. president, i think all of us know that no one in this chamber is grieving the death of general soleimani. he has lots of blood on his hands. but make no mistake, killing him has not weakened iran's hand in iraq in the long term. it has strengthened it. there have been growing calls in iraq to expel u.s. forces, including a vote by iraq's parliament and increasing pressure to throw all u.s. forces out. what was soleimani's main objective in iraq? what is iran's main objective in iraq? to get rid of u.s. forces there. and so in death soleimani has gotten closer to his goal of throwing out u.s. forces than he did in life.
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that is not a strategic success for the united states by any definition. now, the administration justified its attack against soleimani on the grounds that he posed a, quote, imminent threat, unquote. at least that's what they said at the beginning. since then we've heard a lot of other rationales. but the reason they used that particular expression, mr. president, was because it has a very specific meaning under international law, and it was the only legally justifiable rationale for ordering the execution of soleimani. the problem they have is that it just isn't true. soleimani was a very bad guy. he had blood on his hands. but it is not true that he posed an imminent threat under the definition that is applied in the use of force.
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and we know this while the trump administration took a very long time to do it, when they finally provided the senate with the classified briefing on the situation, it was clear the evidence did not support the claim of an imminent threat. in fact, the information proved the opposite was true. so we've been here before, mr. president. we've seen what happens when administrations manipulate intelligence or mischaracterize intelligence, which is closer to the case we're looking at now. mischaracterizing intelligence in order to justify a particular course of action. in the case of iraq, president bush and vice president cheney and many other members of that administration were determined to go to war to, quote, remake
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the middle east. and they searched for pretexts. they embraced a source called curveball. they cherry-picked the intelligence to justify their predetermined plan. and we know the end of the story. we know the end of that story. their claims that iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction were fake, but the toll of the iraq war was very, very real. the cost in blood and treasure nearly 4,900 american lives lost and counting, tens of thousands wounded and counting, $2 trillion spent and counting. the a. we will spend caring for those who bore the battle and their families will not be fully known for decades if ever. the death toll of iraqi civilians not precisely known but certainly horrific.
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and the biggest winner from the war in iraq? iran. iran that had fought an almost nine-year war against iraq and was able to take advantage of a weakened iraq. and it just goes to show the many unintended consequences of action not thoroughly thought through. so, mr. president, before we get into another war in the middle east, whether by design or by miscalculation, let's come to our senses. a war with iran would do incalculable harm to the united states and to people throughout the middle east. it would result in huge loss of american lives and the lives of thousands of other innocent people. that's why our founders did not put the power to take our country to war in the hands of one person. they did not empower the president to take our nation to
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war. president trump has said that article 2 gives him, quote, the right to do whatever i want as president. unquote. we know that that's not true. we know that's not what the constitution says. we know that the framers vested the power to go to war in this senate and the house of representatives and they did it for a reason. so for goodness sakes, let us not betray our constitutional duty. let us at the very least have the courage to assert the powers the constitution entrusts in us. and i thank you, mr. president, and yield back the time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah. mr. lee: mr. president, i rise today to support my colleague senator kaine in support of this resolution before us, a
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resolution that would prohibit the united states from conducting offensive military strikes against iran unless or until such time as congress may authorize it. this is how security policy in our constitutional republic is supposed to work. it's how decisions like these are supposed to be made. congress authorizes the use of military force, and the president, as commander in chief, directs the military. this arrangement gives the american people the best of both words, a legislature to declare war and a single decisive commander in chief to lead the troops. unfortunately, congress has not upheld its end of the responsibility. our system of checks and balances while very beneficial to the american people and while
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giving us the greatest opportunity to protect our green new deal, our liberty, and our -- our freedom, our liberty, and our system of government imposes a degree of rigger and accountability on congress whose members unfortunately are declined to shirk whenever possible. this trend has sadly gained momentum for decades and done so under presidents, house of representatives, and senates of every conceivable partisan combination. and now nearly two or past a vi. it's time for congress to reassert on behalf of our constituents our vital constitutional role in american war-making. before addressing the merits of this particular resolution, let me first dispel two very mistaken assumptions being made about it. first, it is not about defying president trump. quite to
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contrary. this resolution supports president trump, and his particularly deference shall approach, one that diverse to the american people, one that accepts at the outset the fact that we can't fight wars all around the globe in perpetuity and that we certainly can't and shouldn't do that without the consent of the american people and that of their elected representatives in congress. indeed, on this issue, president trump is the most restrained and the most constitution-minded commander in chief we've had in decades. in fact, i believe he is the most restrained and constitution-minded commander in chief we've had in my entire lifetime. he's exactly the kind of partner congress needs in order to get the constitution's war-making process back on the rails, back on the same rails that were designed in 1787. second, this resolution is not
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about condemning the strike against general soleimani last month. after all, the strike against soleimani worked. he was an enemy of the united states with the blood of hundreds of americans and thousands of iraqis, syrians, and even other iranians on his hands. everything we know about him and his work of terror confirms that he was planning to kill again and to do so soon. rather, what this resolution is about is congress reclaiming its rightful powers to restore accountability and consensus to this most grave of all public policy decisions that we as members of congress are asked to make. now, i understand why members of congress are okay with pretending to be pundits on matters of national security,
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cheering the troops when things go well, and attacking the president when they don't. but we're not just political pundits on cable news shows. we have a job to do based on an oath that we took right here in this chamber to uphold and protect and defend the constitution of the united states. and in order to enable the president of the united states to do his job correctly, we have to be willing to do ours. you see, this is part of the evil design of the military industrial complex, is to convince members of congress, first and foremost that they don't have to and shouldn't want to put their name on the line when it this comes to war power. this unfairly puts the blame and the accountability all on the president of the united states. that's wrong. just as importantly, mr. president, it disconnects the american people from their elected representatives here in the senate and in the house of representatives. from a process that really put
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-- could put not just american treasure but also american blood, the blood of their own sons and daughters on the line. that's not right. the founders could not have been any clearer about this. that's especially true when it comes to the greatest founder of them all. remember that when the miami indians attacked americans north of the ohio river between 1791 and 1794, president george washington carefully confined his military operations to exclusively defensive measures. the constitution, washington wrote, vests the power of declaring war with congress. therefore, no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they have deliberated upon this subject. and authorized such a measure. close quote.
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our first president, george washington, was a humble man, and he was a modest man. one of my favorite paintings in this entire building can be found in the capitol rotunda where you see george washington handing his commission back to the continental congress. this at the moment when he had ascended the apex of power. this at the moment when he was the most respected, well-known person, certainly in the western hemisphere, possibly in the world. this at a moment when in any other land, at any other point in world history, george washington was in a position to become a monarch, a king. he chose not to be. he said right then and right there, not on my watch. i'm handing my commission back to the republican institution that employed me to begin with. so, yes, he was a humble man, and he was a modest man. but this wasn't just an act of humility or modesty.
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it was duty. he understood that he had taken an oath to uphold, protect, and defend the constitution of the united states, and as president, he would not deviate from it because he had taken an oath that he wouldn't. under the constitution, whose drafting president washington oversaw before he was president of the united states, while he was president of the constitutional convention and to which he swore an oath of office later, the power to direct power would reside in him as president of the united states as commander in chief. but the power to declare war resided exclusively with congress. this was, of course, very different than the form of government that we had left just a few years prior to that. under our previous system of government, the one based in london, the parliament had no role in declaring war. declaring war was up to the executive, the monarch, the
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king. the king could and in many instances would and did take the country to war. it was the job of the legislative brage of government, of the parliament -- of the legislative branch of government, of the parliament, how to fund t but it was up to the king and king alone to take us to war. this, alexander hamilton explained in federalist 69 was exactly the kind of system we didn't want. it would be up to congress in the first instance to declare war. congress and congress alone would have this power. why? well, because it's the branch of government most accountable to the people at the most regular intervals. when the american people are called upon to put their own blood and treasure, their own sons and daughters on the line in the name of safety, security, freedom, nothing else can suffice but a vote in congress. congress washington understood that. donald trump understands that today. and to his greatest credit, president trump has followed this standard and has countered
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recent iranian aggression primarily through economic sanctions. they're working, and it appears that iran is standing down. tehran has already had to cut back support for international terrorist organizations and its nuclear program and its oil exports are plummeting. iran's economy has been crippled, contracting by almost 10%. and the iranian people know it is the fault of their own government, their own government officials. tens of thousands of iranian protesters have taken to the streets to protest their own government, even knowing that such action may lead them to injury or imprisonment or even death. even "the new york times" has admitted that the iranian regime is losing the will to confront the united states. there may be a pathway to peace and prosperity for the iranian
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people through sanctions relief and trade, if -- if -- the iranian government is willing to cease its support for radical islamic militant organizations and abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and icbms. until then, the united states under president trump's leadership will maintain maximum pressure through sanctions and defend the u.s. from any further attacks. i stand firmly behind president trump in this course of action and, like president trump, i believe that we ought to avoid war if we can. after nearly two decades of militarien tanglement in iraq and afghanistan, much of which was fostered by department of defense bureaucrats deceivable congress and misleading the american people, as we've recently, tragically learned, the last thing we need is another endless, protracted
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conflict in the middle east. the other last thing we need is to have such a conflict occur without congress even authorizing it. in any event, war with iran is currently neither warranted nor consistent with our strategic interest. to be very clear, under this resolution, the president would retain all of his authority as commander in chief to take defensive measures against active threats to u.s. persons, assets, and the homeland, including our armed forces abroad and our diplomats in u.s. embassies, even without a declaration of war or an authorization for the use of military force. such power resides in article 2. he already has that power. nothing in this resolution can or would or even attempts to
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undermine or erode that power. however, even when defensive measures are conducted, the administration should share in the justifying evidence with congress. this, you see, is how this inherent tension between on the one hand the congressional war declaration power in article 1 and, on the other hand, the article 2 power that the president has as commander in chief, this is how they're held in balance is for that information-sharing process to be ongoing. as a separate branch of government, the branch with the constitutional prerogative over the power to declare war, we're not required to simply accept an administration's talking points as a matter of faith, especially after almost two decades of deception in afghanistan. intelligence sharing ensures that congress can appropriately determine whether it should or should not provide the
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administration with further authority to conduct offensive military force. the intelligence so far shared with congress on recent actions, taken against iran, has fallen short, but my main concern with the briefing that i called the worst that i'd ever witnessed on a -- on military matters in my more than nine years in the united states senate, is we were given no indication whatsoever that any offensive action against iran would occur with consultation and authorization from congress. this was inexcusable. this was, moreover, not the president's approach. it was not something that would have occurred in the president's presence. it's certainly not something that would have been communicated by the president himself because this is not how donald trump operates. that briefing was not the president's fault. that briefing was the fault of
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individuals who decided to go off on a detour of their own, forgetting who they represent. worst of all, in that briefing it was suggested that engaging in public debate, discussion, and deliberation about further military action in iran -- in other words, precisely what we're doing right here and right now -- would somehow empower our enemies and undermine the morale of our men and women overseas. mr. president, this is as fault -- this is as false as it is insulting to the american people and demeaning to the constitutional framework to which each of us has swore an oath. it's contrary to our very form of government. constitutionally separated powers exercised with accountability to the people by a -- via checks and balances are

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